Tatsuya Ishida is melding with the hive-mind! »« The Skepticism of Russell Blackford

How could it be possible? It is miraculous!

Harun Yahya has a youtube channel, and it is surreal. He sponsors these panels of attractive young women with grossly overdone makeup — is he catering to his interpretation of how Western women are supposed to look? I don’t know, it’s just weird — and they talk about science in stilted, broken English for an hour. And when I say “talk about”, I mean “recite facts poorly”, as if they’ve memorized a script. Here’s one of them; you won’t be able to listen to the whole thing, it’s just too agonizing.

I skipped around a bit to catch the tone. They talk about the pituitary, for instance, and how it regulates so many aspects of human physiology. They recite the details, and then ask, how can it do that? It’s just cells! Allah must be doing it!

This is what we get throughout the discussion. I skimmed ahead, and they started talking about the regulation of blood sugar. They don’t get the facts wrong — I suspect it’s all just cribbed straight from some physiology text, but it’s as if they don’t comprehend what they are talking about.

The cells in the islets of Langerhans measure how much sugar there is in 5 liters of blood.

But this is impossible! A cell cannot do that!

The cells release a little key called insulin that opens the gates in cells to let sugar in.

How could it be possible? It is miraculous!

The gates only let sugar in, but not proteins.

How do they know? They are only proteins! They have no intelligence! Allah must will it.

Everything is a miracle. Common facts that I expect my students to grasp without a problem (maybe I’ve been mistaken there) are treated as cosmic mysteries that require a divine intelligence to execute — every little chemical reaction in your body only occurs because Allah is consciously and carefully willing it to happen. Why do glucose transporters only move sugars across the membrane and not every protein that comes by? I thought it was molecular specificity of the GLUT binding sites.

I would like to come before that panel with a sieve, and demonstrate how it works, just to see these women gasp and ask, “But how does it know to let the little particles through and not the big ones? It is miraculous!”

I really wonder about the audience for these videos. There is a whole string of them, and they’re all the same, much like Yahya’s books: declaration of basic biological fact, announcement that it is impossible, therefore Allah. They’re not particularly enjoyable, either, unless you’ve got some weird fetish for watching young women say “Inshallah” over and over.

Comments

  1. John Kruger says

    Although Allah could stop regulating the blood sugar of his enemies and kill them almost instantly, he prefers that his most loyal followers blow them selves up, so that he can reward them with sex slaves. Makes sense.

  2. says

    Yahya has a little history of, iIrc, being convicted of financial and, iIrc, physical involvement in a sexual harassment, blackmail and porn ring. I’m just asking a question, what exactly is the motivation of these women to be on that show?

  3. says

    It’s really hard to watch since half of the time I expect them to pan to Pennywise the Clown, telling us in equally jilted english that we all float down here, because “Allah designed us to float.”

    Death rides a Bison.

  4. says

    As a type 1 diabetic I find Allah’s ‘miracle’ work less than satisfactory.

    Having to regulate my own miracle is a real pain. ;)

  5. hexidecima says

    hmmm, when do Muslims go for makeup, showing their bodies in metalic foiled t-shirt and wearing ridiculous jewelry?

    seems Yaya is doing nothing more than getting his rocks off looking at them……inshallah of course

  6. damientrotter says

    Felix #2 – in answer to your question, MONEY!

    And now, elephant in the room time:

    The background montage is of London landmarks – the Millennium Bridge, the Gherkin, Tower of London. The young ladies are made up to look like prostitutes, and they talk in English.

    It’s quite obvious this is an amateurish attempt to make ‘the West’ look bad to Oktar’s uneducated muslim followers.

  7. Dick the Damned says

    Those young ladies aren’t, by any chance, some of the seventy virgins that Yahya thinks he’s entitled to, are they?

  8. gijoel says

    The key. It opens my door. But it’s a little piece of metal. How can that be?

    Jesus John, Paul, George & Ringo Xenu Allah wills it.

    Take that science.

  9. scrutationaryarchivist says

    That’s funny. I had no idea we had laptops in 1985.

    Meanwhile, there are a bunch of cute cat pictures at 6:44 and 7:13. But don’t worry, PZ. There’s an octopus at 2:43 and another with a jawfish at 4:19.

  10. MichaelE says

    Nobody move!

    I dropped my jaw!

    And here I thought that I had become suitably jaded to not be surprised about the levels of stupid put out, but nooooo…

  11. coralline says

    After the kerfuffle with the fishing fly in Oktar’s ridiculous book, I’ve sort of followed these videos (not all damned 2*10^4 of them). They’re all pretty much the same, most as PZ has described, and most will eventually get about 100 comments along the lines of “Truly it is a miracle, blah blallah, PBOH”.

    I’m sorry to see that he’s apparently out of prison now.

  12. Crudely Wrott says

    The girls who listen to an elementary description of cephalopod ingenuity look like they are either wondering why the hell they are there or are just waiting for their cues to deliver canned lines. They look so . . . uncomfortable.

    Funny, but the girl doing the most talking, the one with the largest breasts (at least in the first three minutes that I managed to look at) seems to have put great effort into her makeup (don’t they all?), failing epically on applying rouge; she looks like she’s covering a bruise. And all the while forgetting to comb her hair.

    I just keep saying, “Why? Why? Oh, they are told to. Dammit”.

    Another example of showing individuality and independence by being a follower.

    Bah! Humbug.

    *poor dear ones*

    They make me treasure my own two daughters (bless their delight in not being followers!) all the more.

  13. says

    It sounds like Harun Yahya is fighting a desperate rearguard action on behalf of the, um, Allah of the Gaps.

    Also, PZ, I am disappointed that you didn’t title this post “Get Your Yahya Out”.

  14. Larry says

    As a type 1 diabetic I find Allah’s ‘miracle’ work less than satisfactory.

    You have obviously done something to offend Allah causing him to raise his benevolent hand off your shoulder, thus causing his miracle to malfunction without his divine guidance.

    Get right with Go…, er, Allah and all will be well again.

    Or not. It depends on his rather capricious whims.

  15. Olav says

    damientrotter:

    The young ladies are made up to look like prostitutes, and they talk in English.

    It’s quite obvious this is an amateurish attempt to make ‘the West’ look bad to Oktar’s uneducated muslim followers.

    I don’t know that. To me it looks like a failed attempt to make the girls look “modern” or “fashionable”. In Eastern Europe and Turkey young ladies sometimes look like this on their night out and they are not prostitutes.

  16. jaranath says

    So, I have this friend.  EXTREMELY intelligent.  I’m not kidding, much as you may be tempted to doubt it once I tell you about his beliefs.

    He’s an evangelical and creationist. Last time I discussed creationism and the science of evolution with him at any length, I was stunned at the extent of his ignorance. College-educated and public-schooled, he nevertheless was ignorant of what seemed to me the most basic aspects of living organisms’ functions.  He made statements VERY similar to those in the videos. He talked about diverse cellular functions and the functional arrangements of organs and tissues…at first I thought he was talking about ID.  But no…he had never HEARD of ID!  To be fair, this was some years ago and he’d never researched creationism directly, just made his own deductions and whatever he’d learned from his religious peers.  No, he just thought the fact that different cells, tissues and organs did different things was itself the result of divine intervention…how else could they know what to do? This tied in with his perspective on development, which was part Second Law argument and part information-based.  But again, these were not the more sophisticated formulations we’re more familiar with, but rather the basic claims that it shouldn’t be possible to grow a tree from a seed, and how do the parts know where to go?

    It was difficult to carry the conversation with any sort of composure and I was more than a little rattled, so I didn’t accomplish much except suggesting he do some reading.  The whole time my brain was screaming “BUT…YOU ARE SMART!!!”  In retrospect, it was a wonderful lesson in the arrogance of ignorance.  My friend didn’t know a damn thing about biology and yet thought that his ignorance represented the state of the science, and further, he hadn’t thought to check.  It was also a wonderful lesson in the desperate need for quality science education.  You can be the smartest person around and it won’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have good data or don’t know how to evaluate it.

  17. nonny says

    They all look bored out of their minds.

    At 17.35 one of the women seems to imply that ‘winds and thunders’ are a part of evolutionary theory. They also seem to have no idea that explanations of evolution have moved on since Darwin.

  18. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    What is incredible, is a soccer ball – with no wisdom and no conscience – rolls downhill. Therefore GAWD!

  19. coralline says

    In retrospect, it was a wonderful lesson in the arrogance of ignorance. My friend didn’t know a damn thing about biology and yet thought that his ignorance represented the state of the science, and further, he hadn’t thought to check.

    “the arrogance of ignorance” is a lovely little phrase. Thank you!

  20. radpumpkin says

    If everything is special, nothing is. I wonder if such a simple observation has crossed the solitary brain cell Harun Yahya (gods I love this name!) and his associates share between themselves.

  21. Muz says

    I loaded that up with the sound off and I thought it was a episode of Springer from about 1990 called “My teenage daughter is out of control” or something.

  22. ManOutOfTime says

    So what you’re saying is, these people are preying on the uneducated and credulous? How come I never hear about this on Fox News?!

  23. totalretard says

    I’m afraid these women are too far above my intellectual level. Is this what it’s like at Hooters? I did learn that scientists have only recently found out that chromatophores can take on different shapes and colors. Scientists are so dumb! I knew that when I was a kid.

    Please don’t challenge our minds like this in the future.

  24. greg1466 says

    I only made it about 20 seconds. One thing I noticed is that if you turn the sound off, it’s kind of like watching a Robert Palmer video…

  25. raven says

    Next step; Pharyngula banned in Turkey. (or is it already?)

    At one time Pharyngula was banned in Turkey. No idea whether it still is.

    It is very likely to be banned in Iran which bans most of the outside net. Possibly China.

  26. raven says

    This isn’t much different from xian creationism. A lot of the propaganda the Moslem creationists use, including Yahya, is just xian creationism plagiarized.

    And it isn’t just biology. Boko Harum, the current champions of terrorism and civilian mass murder (of xians) in Nigeria, reject all of western science and believes the earth is flat and rejects the cloud theory of rain, because the Koran says so.

    In large parts of the Moslem world, science is don’t ask, don’t tell. The leadership loves technology and fears science. As long as that happens, they will always be importing the latest technology from the West and East and always be a step behind the modern world.

  27. A. R says

    [head-
    [A. R's head begins moving rapidly toward his desk, accelerating to fifty times lightspeed (yep, my head just broke the laws of physics). A flash of light, the atoms of the head and desk smash into each other, forming a quark-gluon plasma that begins reducing every atom around it into elementary particles. Then, as the entire universe is consumed by the plasma, it collapses onto itself, restarting the universe where it left off. A. R. is wondering how his head passed through his desk.]
    -desk}

  28. spamamander, hellmart survivor says

    … and the fuckwit @29 still hasn’t changed his extraordinarily offensive ‘nym. Congrats, I may finally get around to finding out how to install a killfile.

  29. No One says

    Biggest hoop earrings I’ve ever seen. I’m quite sure that they tie in with the end of times somehow.

  30. says

    The gates only let sugar in, but not proteins.

    How do they know? They are only proteins! They have no intelligence! Allah must will it.

    Maxwell’s demon, or perhaps Maxwell’s demon’s cousin, makes at least as much sense.

  31. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Maxwell’s demon? I guess it could use its silver hammer to pound the sugars through the cell membrane and hit the proteins out of the park?

  32. Cliff Hendroval says

    All of a sudden I can hear Bugs Bunny in the back of my head.

    “Whatta Harun!”

  33. mmghosh says

    Getting evolution understood at all is pretty hard in an Islamic country. This guy has tried it in an academic environment.

    http://mukto-mona.com/wordpress/?p=132

    “The coup de etat which took place in 1975 initiated developments which turned Bangladesh into a semi-theocratic state due to changes brought about in the constitution by the military regime. Bismillah (in the name of Allah) was made a part of the constitution. Islam was declared as the state religion. As a consequence, teaching evolution became as difficult as in the Pakistani days. In Chittagong University, the Islamic fundamentalist students forced cancellation of this course. The National University drastically reduced the course content. The single topic of Evidences of Evolution was finally removed from the Intermediate Biology around 2001.”

    Poor, brave fellow.

  34. leonpeyre says

    I would like to come before that panel with a sieve, and demonstrate how it works, just to see these women gasp and ask, “But how does it know to let the little particles through and not the big ones? It is miraculous!”

    Chunky water goes in, clear water comes out. You can’t explain that!

  35. says

    raven

    The leadership loves technology and fears science.

    How does that even work? Do they think technology is magic instead of scientific?

  36. says

    This made me think of my foreign language class presentations. They are reading from their laptops and improvising a little.

    The only reasonable explanations I’ve been able to come up with for this mindset are:

    The human brain has two basic parts. The cerebrum is responsible for consciousness but it’s largely unconnected to the autonomous systems that govern the body. We function under the belief that we are “a soul wearing a body” because it is largely true–we are a body wearing a cerebrum. Therefore it’s easier for us to imagine “souls” popping into existence than it is for us to imagine pancreases doing the same thing.

    Humans have an evolutionary bias towards thinking there’s a human in the area. It’s important to know when humans are in your territory designing and being complex and all and the downside is just some wasted time.

    What I don’t get is why more people don’t make the obvious jump, which is to say that if the pancreas is really too complex not to have been designed that then God, who is far more complex and not even explicable by known natural laws, must also have been designed.

  37. says

    Do they think technology is magic instead of scientific?

    Pretty much. This is not an uncommon idea. Ask anyone working at a tech support line.

    It’s not unusual for people to attribute things they don’t understand to magic. They don’t call it that, of course, but it’s quite clear that that’s what they mean.

  38. raven says

    raven

    The leadership loves technology and fears science.

    How does that even work? Do they think technology is magic instead of scientific?

    You would have to ask them. Got me.

    Steven Weinberg pointed this out. A lot of the Gulf Arabs with oil money set up universities. They do have technology oriented departments, engineering and so on. They do need trained people to keep their technology going.

    But they had no interest in science per se. They are afraid that science will erode away Islam. They are probably correct. They aren’t totally clueless. It is fear and wanting to hold onto their power and religion is part of their social control mechanisms.

    It’s the same in the USA on a lesser scale. Why do you think the christofascists hate science and public education?

    I looked for a long time for any differences between fundie xianity, fundie Islam, and fundie Judaism. There really isn’t any.

  39. Amphiox says

    The leadership loves technology and fears science.

    How does that even work? Do they think technology is magic instead of scientific?

    What they fear is science (and technology too) for the masses.

    Technology is power, so naturally they want it, and want to flaunt it. And science provides power too, so that do want it, but they want it to themselves – tightly controlled, accessible to only a small elite class of those with access to the “mysteries”.

  40. slavdude says

    I’m just surprised no one has made the obvious joke yet about the Divine Secrets of the Yahya Sisterhood.

  41. freetotebag says

    Creationist Speaker: “No transitional fossils!”
    Christian Audience: “Yeah!”

    Creationist Speaker: “Second Law of Thermodynamics!”
    Christian Audience: “Yeah!!”

    Creationist Speaker: “Just a theory!!”
    Christian Audience: “YEAH!!”

    Creationist Speaker: “So it must have been Allah!”
    Christian Audience: “YEA…Wait, what!?!”

  42. Nes says

    Ugh. Mimi is not a make-up role model, unless you’re intentionally trying to look excessive.

    But yeah, what little bit I listened to was incredibly painful, and they all look bored out of their minds. I suspect that they are reciting a script.

  43. caekslice says

    It’s the Insane Clown Posse argument – I don’t understand it, therefore it’s f***ing miracles!

  44. maxamillion says

    How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.

    The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

    A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

    Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

    No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

    — Sir Winston Churchill (The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 [London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899]).

    Unabridged version

  45. rogerfirth says

    Two words, ladies.

    Lip liner.

    Shit. That one looks like she uses a Sharpie.

  46. rogerfirth says

    Ugh. Mimi is not a make-up role model, unless you’re intentionally trying to look excessive.

    Excessive is all in the mind of the beholder.

    When I was in high school I worked at a fast food restaurant. Across the street was a “college of cosmetology”. The woman who ran the place was named Miss Bizazz, and wore full clown makeup at all times. I swear to the FSM she didn’t look very different from Mimi with the vivid rainbow eye shadow all the way to the eyebrow.

    None of us could figure this out. We sort of assumed she not only ran the place, but was also sort of a “showcase” for what the students could accomplish. Apparently not everybody thought she looked like clown (She did. Believe me, she did.), because she still took in students.

  47. says

    The neurons do not, however, let intelligence in. It is not a protein!

    (Apologies if someone already said this)

  48. julietdefarge says

    I suspect the heavily made up girls are an attempt to catch the attention of young Muslims; it copies the look of Arabic pop music videos. Singers in miniskirts are idolized by little girls in headscarves, and they apparently don’t see or don’t care about any cultural contradictions. I’m sure we can find plenty of Christian videos with fundamentalist “hipsters.”

  49. bortedwards says

    Bloody hell. I *trying* to watch it all (know thy enemy) but my brain cells are committing suicide at an astonishing rate. Must be Allah trying to make me stupid enough to understand him…